Vantage point

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ResearchMBA - MBA Papers and Ideas

I have started a new project called MBA Papers and Ideas. I am reproducing below the first post on that blog, explaining the idea behind it. Please go through it and mail me if you are interested in becoming a part of it. It would be great if you can link it on your blogs too. Please note that "this blog" in the write-up below refers not to Vantage Point, but the MBA Papers and Ideas blog.

I have been thinking of starting this blog for a long time. I finally decided to start it after writing my post on Walmart entering India.

The idea is very simple. The Indian blogosphere is rich with debates and discussions about all issues, including those related to business. A lot of new ideas are put forth, critiques offered, and suggestions made in the blog posts written. However most blogposts are written based on intuitive reasoning. A lot of theoretical propositions are made based on common sense and logic. While there is nothing wrong with it, since it is the first step in the evolution of theory, it would help if there was some research and data analysis done to back up the theories.

For instance, while writing my post on Walmart, I thought about my own buying behaviour when I lived in Bombay. I was earning a reasonable amount of money. I could afford to travel in taxis. And yet I shopped for my groceries almost exclusively from the local kirana-wallah. Why? Several reasons. The nearest Supermart was 8 km away and Bombay is not a city where you travel unless you really have to, even if you can afford a luxurious ride. Plus my local baniya would take my order on the phone and deliver anything to my diirstep within half an hour, even if it was just a loaf of bread.

I further realised that my buying behaviour in India was different than in USA. In USA I usually visit the story once every two weeks and stock up on everything. Even vegetables and meats come frozen, and everything else is packaged. The weather here is such that even the items which can't be refrigerated, like bread for instance, last longer. In India however, I had to buy something or the other every day or at the most every other day. I HAD to rely on my baniya, even if Big Bazaar offered me greater discounts.

So I wondered, can I generalise my own experiences and the learnings from it to the population? Maybe. But to do so with any degree of confidence, it would help if I had some research to cite and back up my claims. Who will do this research?

And then I thought about my MBA days. All those Marketing term papers. The toughest part was identifying a question interesting and important enough to impress the Professor. And there I thought of a natural synergy waiting to be created.

There are thousands of MBA students in India looking for ideas to research for their term papers. There are hundreds of bloggers debating in India and putting forth intuitive theories, but with no time or resources to back them up with research. This is a ripe scenario for mutual back-scratching.

This blog has been created to enable such back-scratching. Bloggers should post here those theories of theirs which they would like researched, and which they think will be interesting enough to make good term papers. MBA students can come to this blog, get ideas for term papers, and write them. They can post their term papers on the blog, creating a resource of research rich for reference and citing. This will also help build recognition and reputation for MBA students. If an MBA student writes a term paper, publishes it here, and it is linked to and cited by several bloggers and even columnists, it will show up on a google search for his name. It will also be a very good CV point, if the idea of this blog is successful. Plus the knowledge will be there for everyone to access. What happens nowadays is good papers are written, presented, published in a booklet by the organisers, and forgotten in a few weeks. There is no archive where the research can be stored and referred. So you can send your papers to be posted here even if you didn't get the idea from this blog.

So this is an attempt to create an open source repository of basic business research. With the retail sector changing so rapidly, there will be a plethora of ideas for Marketing students. I am sure there will be ample idea for Finance as well. The exact operational details will be worked out in a few days. I will definitely need a group of bloggers interested in co-managing/editing this blog with me on a voluntary basis. We can run it on blogspot as a pilot project and if it is successful, maybe think of shifting to a separate domain.

As of now, let us just run this as a pilot project. I will be posting ideas I get for research. If you have some ideas, you can either mail them to me, or if you are interested, I will make you a member of this blog so you can post it yourself.

Mail me at gaurav.sabnis(at)